Harry and Ron flew around the back garden of Harry's house, racing one another up and down the garden. Now they'd left school they had to think about their futures and both boys harboured ambitions to play quidditch professionally. They'd agreed to attend an open trial together the following week, and if they failed to secure contracts with a team they would sign up at the Ministry to become Aurors.
However, no matter which direction their careers took them in they were determined to bring down Hermione. After visiting Dumbledore the previous afternoon, they'd discussed things in detail and decided to let everyone think Dumbledore had talked some sense into them. They were also planning on putting their plan into operation regarding Hermione and drawing her out of Malfoy Manor. However, they were both putting off writing to Hermione as they weren't sure what to say.
Coming to a stop at the bottom of the garden, the pair jumped off their brooms and collapsed onto the grass. As they lay on the grass they ran over a few things they could include in the letter to Hermione. They knew that first of all they had to apologise for everything that had happened at graduation. They also knew that they didn't want to mention meeting up straight away. What they needed to do was establish contact and begin building bridges before they tried to coax her out into the open.
"I guess we should go and start composing a letter," Harry said with a sigh.
"We might as well," Ron agreed. "It's going to take us days to get it right."
Picking up their brooms, Harry and Ron trudged back up the garden and entered the house. The second they entered the kitchen they knew something was wrong. Molly was sitting with Lily at the kitchen table and both women looked to have been crying.
"What's wrong?" Ron demanded. "Is Dad okay?"
"Your father's fine," Molly reassured Ron. "And so is the rest of the family," she added when Ron opened his mouth to check on everyone else.
"So why have the pair of you been crying?" Harry asked. "What's going on?"
"Sit down, we have something to tell you both," Lily said gently.
Harry and Ron exchanged a worried look as they sat down at the kitchen table.
"We're sorry to have to tell you this but Dumbledore is dead," Molly said, choking back a loud sob as she said the words out loud.
"Dead." Harry repeated in shock. "How?"
"He was found late last night," Lily said, tears openly running down her face. "His heart had given way."
"It's all the stress of these last few weeks," Molly said sadly. "He just couldn't cope with being locked up and knowing he wasn't ever going to be free again."
"But he was pretty healthy for his age," Ron said quietly. He was thinking back to yesterday and the fact Hermione had visited him and he had no doubt that Harry's mind had gone in the same direction.
"He was, but he was still an old man, Ron," Molly said. "All this stress of being locked up wasn't good for him."
"Maybe it's better this way," Lily sighed. "I'm sure this is better than him being stuck in Azkaban for the rest of his life."
Molly nodded her agreement, and even though they both felt Hermione had been behind Dumbledore's untimely death, Harry and Ron couldn't help but partly agree. Spending the remainder of his life in Azkaban would have destroyed Dumbledore, but at least now he was spared the indignity of becoming a prisoner in the tough wizarding prison.
"When will his funeral be held?" Harry asked.
"Sometime this week I would think," Lily answered. "Don't worry, we'll keep you up to date with everything that's going on. We won't miss the funeral."
"Thanks," Harry said quietly as he got to his feet. "Ron and I are just heading up to my room for a bit."
"Okay, I'll call you when lunch is ready," Lily said, watching with a sad expression as her son and his best friend wearily trooped out of the kitchen.
Harry and Ron headed up to Harry's room in silence, but the second they entered the room and the door was shut behind them, Harry whipped out his wand and cast a silencing spell around the room. With the room silenced, he threw his broom into the corner and let out a loud cry of anguish.
"That bitch, I hate her," he cried, knocking the contents of his desk to the floor in a rage.
"I know exactly how you feel," Ron said, sadly dropping to Harry's bed. "I can't believe she's done it again. She must have slipped Dumbledore something when she was visiting him."
"I just don't get how everyone can still be so blind," Harry cried in dismay as he joined Ron on his bed. "How can they not see all the evidence pointing to her? She was here the night my father died, and now she was at the Ministry the day Dumbledore died. What more proof do the Order need?"
"I don't know, but I don't think we can rely on them for help," Ron said. "We're going to have to do this alone."
"And we will," Harry vowed, suddenly jumping up and striding over to his desk. Picking up some parchment and a quill from the floor he sat down and began to write.
"What are you doing?" Ron asked, getting up and peering over Harry's shoulder.
"Writing to Hermione," Harry replied. "Or at least writing the first draft. We need to get our plan into motion as soon as possible. She's killed someone else I love, and it's time she suffered for it."
Nodding his agreement, Ron found a quill and some parchment of his own and started to scribble down a few words. They'd already decided it would be better if they both wrote some of the letter so Hermione could see they were both involved in the apology. What they were hoping she wouldn't realise was that the letters were a trap, and the apology wasn't in the slightest bit genuine.
Draco entered his bedroom to find Hermione standing at the window staring out over the manor gardens. His girlfriend was so lost in her own thoughts that she failed to even hear him enter the room. Frowning at the fact Hermione hadn't even noticed him, Draco made his way over to his girlfriend and placed a hand on her shoulder, causing her to jump slightly.
"Sorry," he muttered, dropping a kiss to her shoulder. "I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's alright, I was just lost in my thoughts," Hermione replied, her attention once again returning to the gorgeous view outside the bedroom window.
"Are you brooding again?" Draco questioned.
"I'm not brooding, I'm thinking," Hermione corrected.
"About Potter and Weasley." Draco correctly guessed.
Hermione had been brooding over Harry and Ron for the best part of a week. After their successful plan to eliminate Dumbledore they'd been braced for an attack of some sort from the former Gryffindor pair, but none came. The pair had attended Dumbledore's funeral a few days earlier with the rest of the Order, but that was the only time they'd been heard of. Hermione had been convinced they would try to point the finger of suspicion in her direction, and she didn't know what to make of their silence. The Harry and Ron she knew never would have just given up their vendetta against her.
"They're up to something," Hermione muttered. "I just know it."
"Maybe they're not," Draco said gently. "I spoke to Blaise this morning, and he said the pair were at the open quidditch try-outs yesterday. According to Blaise, they seemed upset by Dumbledore's death but not angry."
"They're trying out for a quidditch team?" Hermione asked incredulously. In the light of everything that had happened, she thought the pair would have had more important things to worry about than quidditch.
"Perhaps they're just moving on with their lives," Draco suggested. "Isn't this what you wanted? If Potter and Weasley aren't going to cause trouble, we can forget about them and concentrate on us. We still have a holiday to take before we look to the future and decide what to do with our lives."
"I guess you're right," Hermione said, turning around so she was facing her boyfriend. "I just didn't think they would give up so easily."
"Let's just be grateful they're useless," Draco smirked. "Now why don't we go and decide where to go on our break. I asked father about the properties we own, and he found me a list of the most private ones."
"Come on, let's go and find a private beach where we can be naked the entire time," Hermione laughed, taking hold of Draco's hand and leading him from the bedroom.
Draco took Hermione to the library, where he and Lucius had spent the last half hour laying out a selection of the Malfoy properties they could visit. Each place had a few pictures of the property and the surrounding area. Lucius had even been kind enough to provide a few notes on each property so they would know what to expect.
Settling down at the table, Hermione and Draco set about finding the perfect place for them to visit. Within ten minutes they had it narrowed down to three choices. As they were discussing the three properties, a house elf popped into the room holding an envelope.
"Miss Hermione has post," the elf squeaked.
"Take it upstairs and leave it on Draco's desk please, Honey," Hermione said, smiling at the elf. She still wasn't used to elves popping up without warning, but she quite liked the little creatures and always made sure she was polite to them.
"Are you not interested in the letter?" Draco asked as the elf disappeared.
"It'll only be from my parents, and I'm planning on visiting them before we go away," Hermione replied with a shrug. "I can read it later, but right now we have a choice to make. Spain, Sardinia or Greece?"
Draco voiced his preference for Sardinia as the conversation over where to go continued. By the time they'd settled on Sardinia fifteen minutes later, Hermione had totally forgotten about the letter waiting for her on Draco's desk. In fact the letter slipped both Hermione and Draco's minds completely as they arranged to go off on holiday.
When the couple left the manor two days later the letter still sat unopened on Draco's desk. Since Hermione hadn't even looked at the letter, she had no idea it wasn't from her parents as she'd originally thought. If she'd looked she would have seen the letter was from Harry and Ron, and maybe if she'd looked she wouldn't have left the country without replying.
In the midst of the Scottish countryside the door to a lonely cottage suddenly opened and a man staggered out into the fresh air. The man took a handful of steps down the small pathway before falling to his knees in exhaustion. It had taken him days to break out of the small cottage, and he didn't know how long it would take him to escape completely and get to safety.
The man had been imprisoned in the small cottage for nearly eighteen years, and he'd genuinely given up hope of ever escaping. However, a week ago something had changed and he'd felt the strong wards that kept him a prisoner and bound his magic drop. After eighteen years of having his magic bound, his magic didn't automatically flow through his veins as it once had. He could still feel his magic inside him, but he was far too weak to access much of it. It had taken all of his strength just to break out of the cottage, now he had to figure out a way to get away from the cottage in case whatever caused the wards to drop was only a blip.
Pulling himself to his feet, the man forced himself to the bottom of the small garden and outside of the property lines. Stopping to catch his breath, he looked around and cursed quietly when he recognised the landscape of the Scottish highlands. Unless he was very much mistaken, he was within five miles of Hogwarts.
"Blood Dumbledore," the man muttered as he began to slowly trudge down the deserted road. "When I get my hands on him, I'll kill the old fool."
Thoughts of killing Dumbledore was one of the two things that had gotten him through the long years of captivity. The other thing was his daughter, Athena. Focusing on his daughter and being reunited with her, he slowly made his way away from his prison. Soon he'd be free, soon he'd be reunited with Athena, and soon Dumbledore and his Order wouldn't know what had hit them. Lord Voldemort was about to return, and heaven help anyone who stood in his way.
A/N – I'm sure it's very obvious from this last chapter, but there will be a sequel to Goddess of Vengeance. I was halfway through writing this story when I decided on a sequel, which is why I focused this story on Hermione's vengeance and have left other elements like Voldemort's return and dealing with Harry and Ron for the sequel. I'm working on the sequel, and I'm hoping it will be ready to publish early next year.
But for now, I want to thank people for reading and reviewing, Goddess of Vengeance. I'm always so grateful, and so amazed, by the amount of support I receive when I publish stories. Thank you again, and I'll be back in a couple of weeks with my new dark Hermione story – Wicked Game.